Mandailing History in Brief  

(Excerpts translated and completed from Malaysia's Mandailing Custom Souvenirs Book and Raja Bilah and the Mandailing in Perak : 1875 -1911).

The Mandailing people were originally from Munda, a region in Central India. They have moved to the area of Mandailing-Natal in the sixth century, fleeing from the Arayan attacks to conquer and expand their influence in the Munda area. After crossing the Himalayan Mountains, they first settled in Mandalay, the ancient name of Burmese capital. It is possible that the name Mandalay itself came from the word Mandailing which follows some of the historian reasoning, but this was never really proven. Soon after, they were once again forced to flee because of the turbulent ethnic turmoil in Burma that happened during that time.

On the run, they crossed the Malacca Strait, which was at that time not a large strait to cross. The Munda had managed to cross the narrow strait and set up a kingdom at Batang Pane, Portibi, allegedly according to historical data, this event occurred in the late sixth century. Batang Pane Portibi is now located in North Sumatra and at the Kabupaten Padang Lawas Utara District. The Munda Holing Kingdom in Portibi had then become known and had widened its boundaries and territories under its rule and ruled over the greater part of the coast of Sumatra and Tanah Melayu (Malaya).

This situation angered the Emperor Rajenderacola and he then attacked the kingdom of Munda Holing and other coastal states in the 9th century. The kingdom of Munda Holing led by Raja Odap-Odap was defeated by Rajenderacola, who had then ruled throughout the Batang Pane district. His fiancé Borudeakparujar had crossed Dolok Maela (reminiscent to the climbing of the Himalayan clan by his ancestors) by holding a clump of earth in his hands in Portibi to symbolically  claimed the area as a new kingdom (staking out a “Banua” . “Banua” is also means world or earth).

The second kingdom in Sumatra was founded in Pidoli Dolok known as the kingdom of Mandala Holing which means the area of Keling people. At that time they were still Hindus and worshiping Lord Siva. In the 13th century, the ruler of Majapahit Kingdom had ordered an attacked at Lamuri, Padang Pariaman and Mandailing. Once again the kingdom of Mandala Holing had its earth burnt and destroyed. The remaining of the population had been hunted and caused them to mix with the people of the Adat. As a result, the Marga Pulungan was formed, from the collection of people, uniting these people to build a clan.

In the 14th and 15th centuries, the Marga Pulungan had built three Bagas Godang (meaning a big house built for the Raja) which were located on the top of three peaks.  Their kingdoms were not great kingdoms, but were merely only village governments formed in the middle of the 14th century.  There were three legends from the Yang Dipertuan Ruyung children named Betara Sinomba, Putri Langgoni and the youngest siblings of Betara Gorga Pinanyungan who founded two new kingdoms. Betara Sinomba had been struck out by the Yang Dipertuan of the Pagar Ruyung because of the mistake he made which started with his younger sister, Langgoni.

The two siblings and their followers traveled (merantau) and established the kingdom in Kota Pinang. The Yang di Pertuan Kota Pinang was the one who had produced the “Raja-raja” to Kota Raja, Bilah, Kampung Raja and Jambi. Her younger brother Betara Gorga Pinanyungan was found guilty of being fair with her mother's cousin, Princess Rumandang Bulan. Since there was no other heirs to the throne the Princess was betrothed to Raja Gayo. When Princess Rumandang Bulan was brought to Gayo she had brought with her a bunch of ripped Pinang fruits, where she then used  the seeds of the Pinang fruit to plant the seeds each time they stopped until they reached the edge of a river. This was done to track her footsteps during her journey to Gayo in future.

On the banks of the river, the Princess gave birth to a healthy and mighty son. When the entourage wanted to continue the journey to Gayo, lightning and thunder suddenly rained on to them that were so intense that their tents could not opened. The situation continues for another seven times. Finally, a Datu informed the Princess that the child must be left on the rock under the tree where he was born, because it was predicted that the baby prince will one day be a great Raja of the area where he was born. Princess Rumandang Bulan refused to leave her son all alone because she wanted to die with her baby rather than leaving him behind to fend for himself and was afraid that the Raja Gayo will find out that she was no longer a virgin.

The turbulent weather suddenly stopped. The rainbow appeared and glowed so wonderfully that seven elves (orang bunian) followed the Dewa Mangala Bulan from Kayangan. The Princess was brought to the river and bathed her with blooming flowers from the nearby Sena tree. When she stepped out of the river after bathing in the river she found that her stomach that once marked her as she had given birth was no longer visible. Because of the miracles event the name of the river is now known as "Aek Batang Gadis" meaning, the river water that had restored the girl’s virginity. The son who was left under the Sena tree was met by a group of Sultan Pulangan’s men that were on a hunting expedition stumbled upon the baby boy and decided to bring back the new born baby to their village.

The baby was cruelly kept and raised in a cage beneath a house. The baby grew older and he finally was strong enough to escape his cage below a house.  He later set up a kingdom with an army, which was strong enough to defeat the Sultan of Pulungan and his kingdom who were once made him a captive. The child was known as Sibaroar, the caged son below the house, who had eventually grew up and became a great Raja of Panyabungan as predicted by the Datu when he was born. Because the Raja Panyabungan was only known by his mother, his kingdom was known as "MANDE NAN HILANG" kingdom, in short for Mandailing or Mandehilang (a Minangkabau word for “mother that was lost”). He was also the founder of Marga Nasution, meaning having “magical” or “divine” powers. When the greatness of Sibaroar was told, the title of Sutan Diaru was given to him by his followers. The news spread far to the Pagar Ruyung, and the Yang Dipertuan of Pagar Ruyung remembered the pregnant Princess Rumandang Bulan that was brought to Gayo years before.

The Yang di Pertuan of Pagar Ruyung and his companions set out and followed the Pinang trees that were planted by his ex-lover, the princess, until it came to the edge of the river called "Aek Batang Gadis" and the news were brought to Sutan Diaru attention in Panyabungan. After telling the lengthy story, a sitter named Sisauwa had shown a yellow silk cloth wrapped around Sutan Diaru when he (the boy prince) was found beneath a Sena tree at the river banks of Aik Batang Gadis with a locket that was once worn by his mother, Princess Rumandang Bulan. So it was then, made known to the Yang Di Pertuan  of Pagar Ruyung, that Raja Sutan Panyabungan was his son.

After receiving the news, the whole kingdom rejoiced and the Sutan Diaru was officially proclaimed as the Raja of Panyabungan. At the same time, an envoy from Kota Pinang had come to Panyabungan to invite the Yang Di Pertuan Pagar Ruyung to come to see his brother. Then, the Yang Di Pertuan said, "We will continue to visit our brother in Kota Pinang." Therefore, Kota Pinang is today known as Tanah Abang, and Panyabungan is known as Tanah Adik, in conjunction with the event Betara Sinomba invited her younger brother Betara Gorga Pinanyungan in Panyabungan in order for him to come to Kota Pinang, although his brother had a larger kingdom in Pagar Ruyung.

The Kingdom of Sibaroar @ Sutan Diaru in Panyabungan expanded his kingdom to include the entire Mandailing Godang area which was located on very fertile land. Sibaroar @ Sutan Diaru  passed away approximately the year 1517 or in the 14th century. In the 19th century, around 1816, the Army Paderi under the leadership of Tuanku Imam Bonjol had sent Raja Gadumbang Porang or known more as Tuanku Mandailing to Islaminize the Mandailing with the religion of Islam. The Paderi Army entered Mandailing through Muara Sipongi and conquered the Penyabungan in early 1816.

Later the Dutch army entered the Mandailing country in the year around 1835, which resulted in many of Mandailing rulers opposed and forced to retreat. Most of the rulers to crossed the Strait of Malacca and settled in Malaya. The Mandailing people of the former army commanders have played an important role in the historical journey to Malaya, known at that time, as the Tanah Pelarian.

Names such as Tuanku Tambusai, the Raja Asal, Raja Laut and the Sutan Naposo  were recorded in the history of the civil war in Pahang and Selangor. The migration of the Mandailing people had begun for a long time, among the reasons for the migration were due to family disputes, menjae or sulking (merajuk), losing a war or seeking  refuge or being hunted for various wrong doings against its customs or laws. The fall of the Penyabungan to the Paderi Army in 1816 and the subsequent Islamization of the land of Mandailing made the area very turbulent. Many of the Mandailing were sent to the Peninsula Malaya for safety.

But the most significant migration of the Mandailing in great numbers began with many trying to escape their land with their families to find a safer place to live. Raja Gadumbang Porang's or Tuanku Mandailing continue the attack with his Padri army was not so pressing or less of a concern, but when Tuanku Lelo constantly attacked the Panyabungan area and hunted the Yang Di Pertuan Huta Siantar and his followers were massacred in numbers it caused and forced most of the Mandailing people to flee to Malaya. The time was around  the year between 1816 - 1832  which was during the Padri War and continued after  Padri War during the Dutch colonialization period.

There are also among Mandailing Raja's who followed the Padri's Army such as the Patuan Maga, Baginda Sidursat and others  who had opposed Tuanku Lelo. Under the command of Tuanku Mandailing some of the clans warlords finally attacked Tuanku Lelo Fort in Padang Sidempuan and defeated him. One of Raja Mandailing's son Jahurlang, titled Tuanku Bosi, the son of Patuan Maga, joined Tuanku Imam Bonjol before the fall of Padang Sidempuan.

Tuanku Bosi was entrusted by Tuanku Imam Bonjol to take care of Bentang Bonjol in 1837 - when he had to negotiate with the Dutch. Jahurlang or Tuanku Bosi was given the sword of Al-Malik belonging to Tuanku Rao who was killed in Air Bagis as a symbolic sign of taking over the leadership of Bonjol. Unfortunately, the Bentang Bonjol was unable to be defended by Tuanku Bosi and lost in battle to the superior Dutch army, Eventually Tuanku Bosi with his followers had no choice but to retreat to  Benteng Dalu Dalu.

Seeing Al-Malik's sword in the hands of Tuanku Bosi, Tuanku Tambusai planned his retreat together with his followers and Benteng Dalu Dalu was handed over to Tuanku Bosi. Tuanku Tambusai accompanied by Tuanku Raja Asal (1760-1877), Abdullah Zawawi (son of Tuanku Bosi) who was later known as Raja Laut and  had to retreat with their followers to Malaya. The Benteng  Dalu-Dalu  fell to the Dutch in 1838. Tuanku Bosi was slained after receiving severe injuries in the battle. Tuanku Tambusai, Raja Asal and the Raja Laut landed in Malacca and went to Lukut to find a place to live. The year was said to be around 1840. According to the book, Raja Billah and the Mandailing's, Raja Asal left because of his hatred (kasumat) for the Dutch. Many Mandailing migrated to Negeri sembilan, Pahang, Selangor and Perak because of the colonization by the Dutch and the imposition of the Dutch role in the area. The irony was that Islamization continued until almost all of the Mandailing area, Minangkabau; including most of Sumatras as their religion. They than collectively fight against  the Dutch colonization rule and realizing that their rule came with a price. Some choose migrate to Penang, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan and Selangor.

Not long after that, the Raja Laut was ordered back to Sumatra to find the remaining Padri’s army to plan for a counter attack against the Dutch. Raja Asal left Lukut because there was a slight uprising there and he then moved  to Kelang to open a tin ore mine,  around 1843. Tuanku Tambusai searched for a remote residence in Negeri Sembilan and settled there. Raja Laut commuted between Sumatra and Malaya while attacking Dutch, British, Chinese and Indian trading ships crossing the Strait of Melaka. Due to this ability and successes in controlling the strait at his will, he was called Raja Laut. Around 1850, Raja Asal had left Kelang and migrated to Pahang along with his followers.

In Pahang, Raja Asal was involved in tin mining and started a business in  trading tin ore. Raja Asal was also able to penetrate the palace of Bendahara Tun Ali and had befriended the royal family in Pahang. He was friendly with Tun Mutahir's son Tun Ali. Tun Ali died in 1857. Raja Asal was then married to Wan Putih or in Mandailing, her named was known as Siputeh. Wan Putih was the daughter of Tun Ali (the Raja Bendahara Pahang). The civil war in Pahang occurred in 1857 - 1863, Raja Asal was involved in the war because of his marriage to Tun Mutahir's family who had also became the new Bendahara Pahang.

The civil war was won by Wan Ahmad, brother of Tun Mutahir. Nursing his severe injuries Tun Mutahir had to retreat with his children Wan Da, Wan Aman and Raja Asal to the border of the Selangor. Wan Putih was invited by the Raja Asal’s slave named 'Sipuntung', and was brought to Selangor. Meanwhile in Selangor, Raja Asal restarted his business in buying and selling tin ore. The Paderi’s fund entrusted to him was invested once again to finance the remaining soldiers of the Paderi’s army who had become his followers. Therefore, he is always in contact with the Raja Laut who was sent to collect the remaining of Paderi's army in Sumatra.

By this time Tuanku Tambusai was frail and no longer plays an important role in restoring the power of the Paderi in Sumatra. When Tuanku Raja Asal decided to support Raja Mahadi in the Klang War to fight Raja  Abdullah (in 1866) he had  requested the Raja Laut for the help of the former Padri troops in the war. When Kelang fell followed by Kuala Lumpur to the Mandailing people, Raja Asal ordered his servant Sipuntung to kill Dato Bandar Yassih of Bugis decent because of the many oppressive and punitive punishment made previously onto the Mandailing people. Tengku Kudin's intervention as representative of Sultan Abdul Samad who ruled Selangor from 26th. June, 1868, changed the political environment and situation  in Selangor.

Tengku Kudin received the help and support from the British. Although, originally Raja Asal, Sutan Na Poso and  Kapitan Yap Ah Loy were good friends, but in 1871 there was a dispute with Yap Ah Loy that began in their tin ore business. In May 1872, Raja Asal and Raja Laut brought their troops to attack Kuala Lumpur. They had been besieged in Petaling Batu, which is now on Jalan Cheras, with approximately 2,000 former Paderi soldiers from Sumatra. There was a battle between the Raja Asal/ Raja Laut with Kapitan Yap Ah Loy's followers assisted by Captain Van Hagen and Captain Cavalier who eventually suffered a severe defeat, of which 730 of their soldiers had been killed.

The success of the Raja Asal and Raja Laut to capture Kuala Lumpur from Kapitan Yap Ah Loy and his allies had urged Tengku Kudin to ask troops from Pahang and Penang for help to capture back Selangor. In the middle of 1872 Pahang allied with Tengku Kudin to defeat Raja Asal who was supported by the Mandailing, Rawa (Rao), Batubara and the Minangkabau people. They were the remaining soldiers of the Paderi army, Raja Asal being given the title of the Tuanku Raja Asal - The title does not mean he was a “Raja” who had the power to rule the Mandailing people, but a title given to him as he was  the Army Commander of the Padri Army.The Raja of the Mandailing  is often called Baginda,and not Tuanku.

At the end of 1872, Pahang troops attacked the Raja Asal’s fort in Ulu Kelang. The Pahang army led by Imam Perang Raja  Rosu (Tok Gajah) who then defeated by the Raja Asal’s army, led by Panglima of Mandailing named Jabarumun who remained  fortified in Ulu Kelang. Raja Asal’s wife ,Wan Putih (Siputih), along with the Telu people, persevered and defended another of the original Raja Asal’s fort which is now known as Siputeh, in memory of her name  as she was very much revered by the Mandailing people. The name of the place in Kuala Lumpur still remain the same until today.

In March 1873, once again Raja Rosu and his troops from Pahang attacked Ulu Kelang with superior military equipments, Raja Asal had anticipated the assistance from Raja Laut to help him defend his position but Raja Laut could not land in Kelang, but instead landed at Teluk Mak Intan. Due to these unforeseened circumstances, the fort of Raja Asal fell to the Pahang people. Raja Laut together with about 1,000 new Batak Muslims however landed in an area now known as Batak Rabit in present day Perak. This was probably because of Batak Muslims ears and noses were pierced with large earrings. Raja Laut had to cross a stream that flowed in the middle and called it Aik Batang Padang or known as Sungei Batang Padang. The word Batang in the Mandailing language also means for sungei (river).

During their journey to Ulu Selangor, they  received the news of Raja Asal's defeat at Bukit Nenas and they camped out at Ulu Bernam / Slim River to wait for the Raja Asal who was retreating and heading for Perak. Before meeting with Raja Asal at Slim / Ulu Bernam an agreement was made so that Jabarumun / Raja Barumun  will be sent to get the Sutan Na Poso (Sutan Puasa) in Ulu Langat and to arrange for a counter attack on Tengku Kudins and Raja Bosu’s position. Sutan Na Poso was unsure with Raja Asal commitment as he did not participate with his forces led by Jabarumun / Raja Barumun to fight against the Pahang army.

 Raja Laut and his followers did not follow Raja Asal to Changkat Piatu, but they had camped in Air Kuning and Banir in Perak. Raja Laut left his eldest son Basir Nasution or known as Syeh Basir, a religious teacher in Air Kuning. Raja Laut then  returned to his old familiar  ways and went back to crossing back and forth the Strait of Malacca, until he was killed in one of the battle with the  naval warships of the Dutch navy at the Labuahan Bilik.

His son Syeh Basir Nasution returned to Sumatra to collect his family, but he no longer resides in Air Kuning. His oldest son Ja Akob or known as Jakub lives in Banir and Air Kuning. Raja Asal was accepted by Raja Idris, the son of Mahrum Teja in the area of Teja, and was given a vast mining area at Changkat Piatu. Raja Asal was also given the power to collect taxes for tin ore at the mouth of Sungai Pinji and Sungai Kinta. A well thought off  method for collection of taxes was created by Raja Asal.

The fort  that Raja Asal built was a solid fort  (Pengkalan Yang Tegoh) and following the "telor" (a Perakian slang), the area was soon pronounced as Pengkalan Pegoh. Raja Asal also built a village for the  Mandailing people who had migrated to Changkat Piatu. The Rawa people were placed in Gopeng under the leadership of Panglima Jabarumun or known as the Imam Perang Jabarumun. The wife of Raja Asal, Puteh and her followers were living in an area at Bukit Nenas and after being chased by the Pahang troopers , she and her followers had walked all the way to find her husband in Perak. She and her follower reached an area somewhere near Pusing, where she and her followers setup camped while waiting for the messenger of Raja Asal to meet with them. The area (now a village) they camped while waiting is now known as Siputeh. This is also why there are two places named Siputeh, one in Selangor and  the other in Perak.

It was reported that in 1874, when the Pangkor treaty was concluded between the British and the Sultan of Perak had left many dissatisfied Perak leaders. Since Raja Asal was a brave and experienced man at war, some of them called for his intervention (Raja Asal) to expel the British from the state of Perak. Raja Asal rejected their request to intervene in the upheaval in Perak as he was sick and tired of fighting throughout his teens and adulthood.

The pack to kill J.W.W Birch, the first British resident was not participated directly by Raja Asal, but Raja Asal had lent his beloved Sipuntung as a sign of his participation in clearing the earth from the intervention by the unbelievers he had opposed, ever since he had converted to Islam. Raja Asal was never a headman of Mukim Belanja, the first headman of Mukim Belanja was Raja Bilah (1834-1911), the nephew of the Raja Asal.  JWW Birch the first British Resident in Perak and was killed at Pasir Salak by the local Malays on 2nd November 1875 to rid the British from Perak and as a revenge against them.The Perak war ensured (1875-1876) to capture the perpetrator who had killed JWW Birch.  The war ended with the capture of many prominent leaders such as Dato’ Maharaja Lela, Sultan Abdullah and Ngah Ibrahim.  Many of them were banished to Seychelles of the coast of Africa. Mukim Belanja was not yet formed, before the year 1875. The Mukim was established in the year in between 1875-1890 and Raja Bilah became the first Penghulu of Belanja.

Raja Asal has fallen ill and unable to handle the mining business or to collect taxes for Raja Idris (Sultan of Perak). As a result, he owed $ 3,000.00 to the authorities. In the wake of his illness Raja Bilah was in charge of all matters of the Raja Asal. Eventually, Raja Bilah had asked Raja Asal to give him full power in running of his business and to pay all the debts. After six months of power being handed over to Raja  Bilah, all of his (Raja Asal)  debts were fully settled.

Raja Asal, in his relatively old age and the impression of a defeat and failure caused him to be no longer an active person in his the day to day affairs. All matters that used to be under Raja Asal were then now controlled by the Raja Bilah. Tuanku Raja Asal died in 1878 and was buried in Changkat Piatu between the Sungai Pinji and Sungai Kinta. To this day his grave, and resting place is still majestic and located in the Changkat Piatu burial ground.

Great many people from the Mandailing regency migrated to Tanah Melayu during from 1830’s-1890’s until the end of the World War II. Indonesia was captured and occupied by the Japanese during World War II from 1942 - 1945.  Netherlands was also occupied by the Nazi, Germany during the same war. Indonesia was declared its independence as a republic on 17th August 1945 after Japanese surrendered in 1945 and at the same time ended the colonial rule by the Dutch that have begun from the year of 1602. Malaysia gained its independence from the British and became a sovereign nation on August 31st, 1957 after being colonized by Portuguese, Dutch, the British and was also occupied by the Japanese  since 1511, a period of almost 450 years.

Since Indonesia declared its nation as a republic , It automatically ended the centuries old rule by the  ruling families or it’s Raja’s and Sultan’s rule over their own territories, while in Malaya, after gaining its Independence, kept it sovereign constitutional monarchy. Malaya also remain as a Democratic Parliamentary system through a agreement made with the former British Colonial Masters and the rulers of Malaya together with the ruling political parties.

With the ending at the Colonial rule of both countries, the migration of the Mandailings and from any other places to Malaya ended somewhere during the years of 1949 - 1957.

Great many Mandailing migrated and lived in the state of Perak after their loss in the Civil War with Pahang and also with Selangor civil wars earlier on. There are still many people of Mandailing descent living in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Pahang , Melaka and Negeri Sembilan. The Mandailing people have gradually assimilated into the Malay community and became part of the Malay race ever since.Malaysia has become a pluralistic country and will continue to become for in years to come. However, their ties to the mother land in North Sumatra Province, in the Mandailing Natal regency remain strong.

Source: HPPM, Malaysia

*Arayan: - The source of the English word Aryan comes from the Sanskrit word Arya, which is the self-designation used by the Vedic Indic people migrated into the Indian sub-continent about 1500 BCE.  They were original people that migrated from Iran to the Hindu mountain.

*Rawa:- In many of the villages the people from Rawa and Mandailing lived together peacefully. Below are some villages and towns that were set up by the Mandailing and Rawa people in Perak. Most of the villagers was set up during the year 1870’s - 1890’s or from 1850’s - 1870’s. However, it is also important to note that the Perak state was settled much earlier and the Perak Sultanate goes back to 1528 after the fall of Malacca Sultanate in 1511 to the Portuguese.

* Gopeng
* Changkat Piatu
* Gunung Mesah
* Siputeh
* Lawan Kuda
* Chulek
*Kampung Rawa
*Lawan Kuda
*Kota Bharu